How does it work?
Running (as nature intended it) has taken place for hundreds of thousands of years – it’s only relatively recently that humans have started to use cushioned and padded shoes to support their feet. Proponents of bare foot running believe that these shoes alter the stride of the runner, ultimately leading to greater impact and a higher risk of repetitive stress injury. The alternative? Thin-soled shoes that allow the foot to function in a much more natural manner.
They may not be things of beauty, but specially designed barefoot running shoes are a must for anyone looking to get into this form of exercise. Following a careful progression programme you may eventually be able to exercise without any shoes on at all, but run before you walk (if you’ll excuse the expression) and you’ll soon find you do yourself a nasty injury...
In addition to the health benefits barefoot running may offer, it is said to increase efficiency and performance, as well as increasing the amount of satisfaction runners get from their workout. Increased awareness of stride and foot position will allow you to get more out of your run, whilst also helping to ensure that you never step in a pesky puddle again - always a bonus.
Is it for me?
If you enjoy running but struggle with aches and pains caused by the impact, barefoot running could be what you’re looking for. You may get the odd funny look in the park, but stick with it and you could have happier feet sooner than you thought.
Good to know
Olympic champions and world record holders Abebe Bikila, Tegla Loroupe, and Zola Budd are all barefoot runners.